5 easy ways to make your car more environmentally friendly

If you’re reading this post in the United States, chances are pretty good that you own and drive a car.

It’s an unfortunate reality that it’s nearly impossible to reasonably get around without one if you are outside of a major metropolitan area with a good transit system, like New York, Chicago, Boston, etc.

So what’s a driver who cares about the environment to do to make driving and owning a car as green as possible? There are literally dozens of things you can do, but it starts to get overwhelming to list them all. And when people start to get overwhelmed they tend not to take any action at all. I know it happens to me all the time.

So I’ve decided to give you some low hanging fruit, with these 5 easy tips that require very little time, motivation or effort.

Read them, and then do something!

1. Check your tire pressure.

How can something so simple be so consistently overlooked? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 44 million people are driving around right now with underinflated tires!

Even worse, 85 percent of people who do check their tire pressure probably aren’t doing it correctly, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Learn how to check your car tire pressure correctly at Safercar.gov.

Keeping your tires properly inflated will give you around 3 percent better gas mileage, so you’ll be saving money too.

2. Get rid of the junk in your trunk.

Did you know that every extra 100 pounds of stuff that you are hauling around in the trunk of your car or the back of your wagon or SUV is reducing your gas mileage by up to 2 percent?

What are you dragging around in the back of your car right now that you could unload?

3. Don’t leave your car running when you aren’t driving.

This one infuriates me. I see it all the time at my local Starbucks. People just leave their car running while they go inside for five minutes to order and prepare their drink. What’s the point? We have a serious air pollution problem here in Dallas, and cars idling for no reason are not helping.

An idling car is getting ZERO miles to the gallon by definition.

And beside being bad for your gas mileage and bad for the environment, it’s just plain dangerous if you’re in a garage. Stationary vehicles are the largest source of unintentional, non-fire related fatalities, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When you stop your car for longer than a red light, just turn it off.

4. Don’t spill gasoline when filling up your tank.

It’s not just burning gasoline that causes environmental issues. Spilling gas and letting it evaporate are both big problems.

Here’s what the EPA has to say.

Gasoline vapors are harmful to you and the environment. Not only are they toxic to breathe, they contribute to ozone formation in the atmosphere. Since gasoline vapor production increases during the hot summer months, it is important to be careful when refueling your vehicle. Here are some simple measures you can take at the gas station:

Need more convincing? Here are some facts from the Alliance for Proper Gasoline Handling.

A rough estimate of hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline spillage alone is approximately 28,000 tons per year nationwide.

These releases contribute, at least in part, to the United States Geologic Society (USGS) estimate that more than 40 million people use groundwater that contains at least one volatile organic compound, many of which are components of gasoline.

5. When it’s time for a new car, go green.

You don’t have to buy a hybrid to go green. The EPA has this terrific resource for the greenest automobiles in every category.

Treehugger also has a great resource page on greening your automobile.

Worried about whether it is more environmentally friendly to keep your current car or switch to something that gets better gas mileage? Well guess what! Someone has done the math for you.

Did we miss one of your favorite tips? If so, leave a comment!

6 thoughts on “5 easy ways to make your car more environmentally friendly”

  1. Not only will properly inflated tires help fuel efficiency, but underinflated tires can cause the tire to fail.

    From http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=1

    Disadvantages of Underinflation

    An underinflated tire can’t maintain its shape and becomes flatter than intended while in contact with the road. If a vehicle’s tires are underinflated by only 6 psi it could weaken the tire’s internal structure and eventually lead to tire failure. Lower inflation pressures will allow more deflection as the tire rolls. This will build up more internal heat, increase rolling resistance (causing a reduction in fuel economy of up to 5%) and reduce the tire’s tread life by as much as 25% while increasing the probability of irregular treadwear. Drivers would also find a noteworthy loss of steering precision and cornering stability. While 6 psi doesn’t seem excessively low, it typically represents about 20% of a passenger car tire’s recommended pressure.

  2. If I wanted to think of 1 other different type of environmentally friendly type of transport what
    would I chose?

  3. It depends on where you live and what’s available!

    The most efficient thing would be to walk or ride your bike if you only have to go short distances.

    Or you could drive a motorcycle or scooter to save gas and limit your emissions.

    But for example, some cities have subways, some places only have buses, some places have light rail. So it all depends.

    Mass transit is more energy efficient than driving a car — especially if you are traveling alone.

  4. running a six-cylinder engine for 20 minutes uses less gasoline than it takes to start the motor. also 70% of engine wear is caused from the first 30 seconds of a motor start and running. therefore running your engine for 20 minutes rather than shutting it off for five minutes then re-starting actually saves gas and produces less engine wear. so if you have a 6, 5, 4, or 3 cylider motor i reccomend just let it run UNLESS it will idle for 25 minutes then you might as well shut it off. and if you have a v8 i guess you wouldnt be reading this article.

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